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Feast of Sant'Ippolito

The History of the St. Ippolito Festival

By: Emma Spagnuolo Caruso

In the early nineteenth century, a terrible earthquake devastated St. Ippolito, a small town near Cosenza in Calabria, Italy. Almost every home and building was destroyed, except for the church, which was named St. Ippolito Church after the town.

The people of St. Ippolito promised the saint St. Ippolito that if he would protect them and their town from another earthquake, they would have a festival every year in the month of August in his honor. Since then there have been minor earthquakes in the region, but no earthquakes that have destroyed any property.

The people of St. Ippolito kept their promise. Every year in the month of August they celebrate the St. Ippolito Festival for three days with masses, a procession thru the town with a band, concession stands, and at the end there are fireworks.

The St. Ippolito people that came to America and settled in the Lansing area missed the Festival. A group of people worked together to organize one. In 1938, the first Festival of St. Ippolito was held at Bunker Hill, Michigan. Since then, every second Sunday of August they celebrate the St. Ippolito Festival, to honor their beloved Saint. During World War II, the festival was held at Church of the Resurrection in Lansing, Michigan, due to rationing. The Festival starts with a mass, followed by a procession and singing of the “Procession Song” in Italian on the church grounds. The families bring food and have a wonderful picnic and enjoy socializing with each other. The young children enjoy the day very much by playing all kinds of games.

 This is the song that is sung during the Procession at both celebrations:


Italian Version

Sant'Ippolito Protetore
In testa porti questi fiori
E Li porti a voglia mia
Per ne dare gloria a Dio.

Sant'Ippolito mio bello
Che di oro e tuo capello
Il cavallo e poteroso
Sant'Ippolito e glorioso.

English Version

Our protector Sant'Ippolito
Wearing flowers on your head
Which you wear for our honor
And to give glory to God.

Our beautiful Sant'Ippolito
Wearing a golden hat
Your horse is strong and vigorous
O glorious Sant'Ippolito.

Thank you to Emma Caruso, for writing this down and translating the song!

More than 1,500 members of mid-Michigan's Italian-American community gather on the second Sunday in August to celebrate the feast of Sant'Ippolito.  The celebration in Bunker Hill, Michigan was started in 1938, by immigrants from Sant'Ippolito, Calabria, Italy.  Some of them include

Gennaro Coscarella (George Coscarelli)
Emil DeMarco
Carmine (Charles) Fabiano
Alfred Spagnuolo
Charles Spagnuolo
William Spagnuolo
           and others.

If your ancestors were one of the founders of the Feast, please email me.
I would love to list their names.

For more information about the Festival,
email Charlie Spagnuolo at nuolo @ 
Please put "Sant'Ippolito Society" in the subject.

Check out the following links:

• Cookbook • Bunker Hill •

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For more information, please email
Jane Fabiano-Turner at janemft @) jftwd (dot) com or
Michele Hicks at
hicksfamilygenie (at) comcast (dot) net.

You will have to type in our email address to eliminate spam for us.  Thanks!

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Last Updated on 06/17/09